JPC: Visible progress in fulfilling strategic goals – membership in NATO and EU

North Macedonia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrej Zernovski addressed Thursday the 16th meeting of EU-North Macedonia Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) held in Strasbourg under the joint Chairmanship of Alojz Peterle, Chair of the EP delegation and Goran Milevski, Chair of the North Macedonia’s Parliament delegation.

In his address to JPC members, Zernovski said, “We are proud of the achievements and perspectives we have opened for the Republic of North Macedonia. We are aware that there is still a much work to be done, but the success so far gives us optimism that we will succeed in fulfilling our strategic commitments.”

Deputy FM Zernovski noted that in the past year the Republic of North Macedonia succeeded to achieve visible progress in fulfilling strategic goals – membership in NATO and EU.

“We expect the EU Council to determine a specific date for opening accession negotiations with EU in June. The risk of delaying the adoption of such a decision would mean losing momentum, which was built with huge efforts by Greece and North Macedonia. It would also mean a discouraging signal for the state and would slow down the reform process and unpredictability of creating new opportunities. On the other hand, opening accession negotiations would mean continuation of production of good news, investing in stability and prosperity of the EU, demonstration of credibility and commitment towards fundamental EU values. It would not mean membership, but a start of a long journey that would contribute to a fundamental transformation of the society,” Zhernovski said.

“For us, Europe means more than just union, than just growth and economic security. For us, Europe means living in a modern, equitable and open society, with clear democratic standards and equal rights for all are guaranteed,” Zernovski said.

The EU-North Macedonia JPC meeting is expected to adopt a recommendation to start EU talks in June. The document that will be adopted at the end of this meeting, notes that progress has been achieved in key areas of rule of law, security and intelligence services, public administration reform and combat against organised crime and corruption, which is a solid basis for the next EC report and will provide a positive climate ahead of June EU Summit.

Representatives of the European institutions and the European Commission also emphasized that the Republic of North Macedonia is ahead of a significant moment, considering that an important decision of the European Council on opening of negotiations is expected in June.

The representatives of the European Commission noted progress in reforms, which included a large part of their recommendations, welcoming the policy of good-neighbourliness and pointing out the Prespa Agreement as an example of leadership and courage to resolve disputes.

They also consider that a consistent implementation of laws, the combat against corruption, the investigation of accusations of nepotism in employment and bringing to justice of those responsible for all abuses are necessary. EU officials also called for cooperation, dialogue and the determination between the opposition and the government authorities on all-important strategic issues for Euro-Atlantic integration of the country.